This section deals with the removal of floor coverings in preparation for the application of ceramic or stone tile. Generally any existing surface that would interfere with a good bond, is dimensionally unstable, or poses a threat to the quality or durability of the new tiled installation should be removed. Floor coverings that would interfere with a good bond might include wax, oil, loose paint, dirt, poorly bonded resilient flooring, and the like. It is a general rule that linoleum, seamless flooring, and “peel and stick” floor coverings should be removed from the substrate prior to the application of tile.

Caution: Older flooring products in the above categories may contain asbestos. Federal guidelines prohibit the removal and disposal of the products containing asbestos without proper licensing and precautions. In no case should they be sanded, as the dust particles are hazardous. When the flooring may contain asbestos, it is better to cover the surface with tile. If the existing flooring is unstable, proper removal contractors should be consulted if the decision to install tile is still desirable.

Remember that every project is different. There are times when no removal is necessary at all. In the following three photos, we see a case that required the removal of the entire substrate floor. This was a shower floor that had been leaking for years. Many of the 1″ X 8″ sub-floor boards needed replacing.

This task was accomplished with a reciprocating saw, circular saw, pry-bar, and a hammer. As usual, use appropriate safety devices including glasses and gloves. Some of the most common flooring materials removed are carpet and resilient flooring in preparation for tile. In this photo we see a typical bathroom floor that includes both carpet and resilient flooring.

The carpet is simply pulled up from the tack strip exposing the carpet padding.

The carpet padding is removed many times leaving particles of padding stuck to the glue used to hold the padding to the sub-floor. The particles and residual glue are removed with the same razor scraping tool used in resilient flooring removal.

Next a 6″ razor blade floor scraping tools is used to remove the resilient flooring.

The sub-floor is then cleaned and readied for the application of tile. In this set of photos, we see ceramic tile removed from a small bathroom floor. The toilet was removed and the tile around the toilet flange was the first to go. A small sledgehammer and large chisel was used to dislodge the existing tile. Note the safety glasses and gloves.

Tile Doctor Tip: During the removal process, caution should be exercised to avoid damaging adjoining surfaces. In this small bathroom this meant simply being careful. In larger jobs, this might involve the masking of uninvolved surfaces with craft paper and tape. In extreme cases, this might mean wood barriers.

During the removal, the worker is allowed to view the former tile-setters work. In this case, the lack of the required 80% bond coat coverage was not met. Work progresses tile-to-tile resulting in the exposure of the substrate beneath the old tile.

In this photo, note the use of a heavy floor scraper to dislodge the existing tile.

Once the tile and baseboards were removed, the floor is scraped with a 6″ razor floor scraper to remove the existing bond coat still adhered to the substrate. This area of the floor has been satisfactorily scraped. When all the floor is similarly complete, the floor is ready for the new tile.

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